By Stephanie Harper,
Special for the AFRO
Baltimore’s self proclaimed “Crochet Queen,” Lauren “Bemi” Byrd, gained fans and followers from around the world this month, after Grammy award winning artist Lizzo rocked the artist’s custom crochet sweater jacket on stage.
Byrd went from local creative to a crochet star when Lizzo, a top charting singer, came to Baltimore’s CFG Bank arena to deliver a powerhouse performance on May 9. Byrd was a member of the audience, celebrating her 40th birthday. Instead of asking for birthday presents, she decided to gift one of her creations to Lizzo.
Byrd told the AFRO that she had plans on creating this jacket months before Lizzo came into town.
“I manifested and prayed over this jacket. I wanted to do something that was nice for Lizzo because she inspires me,” said Byrd. “Her music is really uplifting and positive and it’s made me feel so good about myself.”
Lizzo had nothing but positive things to say about Byrd’s act of kindness.
“I like this cardigan! I might keep this on!” she said on stage, while reading a note Byrd left with the sweater in front of the thousands gathered. “Where is the woman at? Why is she in the back!?”
Lizzo paused the performance to acknowledge Byrd and the audience cheered as she revealed the back of the crocheted creation.
Byrd cherished the moment. She recalls harder times when she had inadequate supplies, and had to work full time and while pushing through on large projects.
This month, it all paid off.
The jacket created by Byrd features rich earth tones of variation purples, blues and peachy mauves, but the main focus is the crocheted image of Lizzo out on the back. Byrd used a picture of Lizzo from a previous performance as a guide, inspired by the 1985 Annie Lee painting “Blue Monday.” The detail was captured meticulously. The time put into the garment captures the moment perfectly and makes it truly one of a kind.
“I spent so much time thinking about the colors, but I knew I wanted to do something powerful,” said Byrd.
Everything was thoughtfully placed– including the wooden label created by Bemi’s sister featuring a small bird which serves as the logo. Lizzo stepped out on stage and showed off her beautiful custom jacket to an audience that witnessed a dream come true. After all the viral posts and trending shares, Bemi is looking forward to spreading her blessed hands and crochet talents around the globe.
“I’m staking my claim and creating a new lane for my niche– ‘granny chic’– which is all about the comfort but elegance of vintage,” said Byrd.
She shared her feeling of immense gratitude for those who helped her achieve her goal and worked to get her garment to Lizzo.
“We tried to give it to her manager or team at first, but they said no. A head boss came and got the sweater and said ‘We’re going to see what we can do.’ And the next thing, my sweater was in the back with her,” Bemi said gratefully.
It was that small gesture that led to an international celebrity celebrating her hard work.